Gone but never forgotten

For those in Europe, Marcos Senna may be a name that hasn’t been heard in a while, but across the Atlantic, he has spent his twilight years enjoying great success with the New York Cosmos. And at 39, the veteran midfielder has finally called time on his career, having clinched the NASL Soccer Bowl.

Senna is far from being a superstar name, and with teammate Raul Gonzalez also retiring, the former Real Madrid man predictably gets a lot of attention. However for those who follow Spain or Villarreal, he is a player unlikely to be forgotten any time soon. It was for La Roja after all that the midfielder made his name, particularly after his performance at Euro 2008. A Brazilian by birth, he gained a Spain passport in 2006 and immediately slotted into his adopted nation’s squad for their 2006 World Cup campaign.

Just as well, considering he wasn’t exactly the type of player who comes to mind when one thinks of a Brazilian footballer, Senna wasn’t one for fancy tricks. His style of play was, by contrast, very simple but wholly effective and conducive to Spain’s brand of football. He was the glue that held the team together, letting the creative forces of Andrea Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and David Silva do what they do best. That’s not to say he couldn’t play himself, for he was too a skilled passer of the ball in his own right.

A key cog in the Spain side, these traits came to the fore in Austria-Switzerland, where his quality performances helped Spain go all the way and win their first European Championship in 44 years.

As Spain lifted the trophy with a 1-0 win over Germany in the final, Senna was named in the team of the tournament and ranked by some pundits as the best player. Regardless of what became of his career from that moment on, he along with the rest of that cup-winning squad have been immortalised.

Having made his La Roja debut at 29, Senna would only go on to make 29 appearances for his newly adopted nation, and once he turned 33, with the injuries beginning to pile up, he could not compete with the then-emerging Sergio Busquets, missing out on the 2010 World Cup as a result.

It took a long time for him to find his way to Spain. Up until the age of 25, he bounced between a number of clubs in his native Brazil before he eventually found a home with Villarreal. Having represented the Yellow Submarine for 11 seasons, Senna cannot be anything but a club legend.

He enjoyed many highs with the club, including two Inter-Toto Cups, a second-place La Liga finish and Champions League semi-final as he became club captain and a fan favourite, and despite relegation, he was able to end his time in Spain on a high, ensuring Villarreal bounced back to La Liga at the first attempt.

He may have outlasted his usefulness in Spain, but he was very much needed by New York Cosmos in the North American Super League.